Chimps Chuckle, Smile Much Like Humans Do: Photos
By Jennifer Viegas for Discovery News
Laughs and smiles in chimps turn out to be far more human-like than previously thought and they date to at least 5 million years ago, suggests a new study on chimpanzee facial expressions and vocalizations.
Laughter is not 100 percent identical between the two primates, but people who hear a chuckling chimp usually have little trouble figuring out what the sound generally means.
Chimps go “h-h-h,” while humans sound more like “ha-ha-ha” or “he-he-he,” said Marina Davila Ross, a senior lecturer in the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Psychology and lead author of the study in PLOS ONE.
Then there is the flexibility of the sounds and related expressions.
“Chimpanzees, like humans, can produce their facial expressions free from their vocalizations,” Ross explained. “This ability is important for humans. For instance, it allows us to add a smile while talking or laughing, and we can also produce smiles silently. Until now, we did not know that non-human primates also have this ability.”
It’s even possible that the skills first emerged in the common ancestor of chimps and humans.